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Central California Life Magazine

Tree of Life Café & Bakery Sprouts in Downtown Fresno

Mar 02, 2016 01:46PM ● By Steph Rodriguez

Colorful snap pea and radish salad with lime from Tree of Life Café & Bakery.

Inspired by the farm to table philosophy of the San Joaquin Valley and deeply rooted in providing the community with not only a hot cup of tea or a warm, chocolate brownie, Tree of Life Café & Bakery also offers steady jobs to men and women who have transformed their lives for the better.

Set to open in March 31 at 10 a.m., the downtown cafe's motto is "slow cooking, served fast," and co-owner, Carolyn Ocheltree, further explains the concept as more of an urban cafeteria where customers walk in, grab a tray and choose what slow-cooked menu items they'd like to sample. Think, grandma's all-day style of home cooking, but ready to serve and ready to eat, now.

"We are having so much fun and it's just a joy. It's really like a family project. It's like we're moving into a new home together," Ocheltree said.

With the bounty of the San Joaquin Valley's farm to table movement, the ingredients at Tree of Life Café & Bakery are farm fresh and sourced locally. So, hearty chili bowls topped with cheddar cheese, slow-simmered asparagus soups and fresh-cut nopales salads with cotija cheese all pepper the menu.

Freshly brewed coffee and tea blends served in house are provided by Lanna Coffee Co. and Raizana Tea Co., and are both in close proximity to the eatery. But, what goes better with a hot cup of coffee or tea? Carolyn says, "pie" and goes on to say the cafe's specialty is hands down its homemade pie topped with Ampersand Ice Cream, another Fresno favorite.

Both Carolyn and husband, Steve's, desire for the past 20 years is to provide a place for men and women who have undergone life transformation classes like drug and alcohol rehabilitation, a place to work and make a living. More than half of the 13 employees at Tree of Life Café & Bakery are working toward staying clean and sober.

"We had a son that went through methamphetamine addiction, and we wanted to give back and say thank you to the loving community at Fresno Rescue Mission for their generosity," Ocheltree said. "It's something I believe God has put in our hearts."

Be the first to see the Tree of Life Café & Bakery family in action on March 3 during the Downtown Art Hop from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with live Mexican folk and reggae music to welcome the unveiling.